IRVINE, Calif. – Foul trouble and a late Cal Baptist surge spelled doom for Dixie State, which went down hard 90-73 in the semifinals of the PacWest Conference Tournament Friday at the CU Arena in Irvine, Calif.
The Lancers broke a 62-62 tie with a 10-0 run. Moments later, a second 10-0 run got the lead to 20 points with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
It was a tight game through much of the first half. Josh Fuller picked up two quick fouls and had to go to the bench after only two minutes of action. Dixie State still had the early lead. Zac Hunter’s free throw with 14:11 on the clock gave Dixie its largest lead, 13-7.
Five consecutive points from the Lancers Gelaun Wheelwright pulled CBU even at 17-17. Alexander Birketoft’s 3-pointer with 8:28 remaining gave CBU a 22-21 lead with 8:28 remaining until halftime.
Trailing the rest of the half, DSU would stay within striking distance. CBU connected from distance twice at the end of the half to push the lead to double digits, 46-36.
“Those late 3s were big,” said Judkins. “It was a big momentum swing for them going into halftime.”
In the second half, the Storm began their three-quarter court pressure defense.
“We were effective in getting some turnovers, but also slowing down their offense,” said Judkins. “Again, Josh (Fuller) picked up two more quick fouls and had to be pulled. I don’t know if that was their game plan, but if it was, they worked it to perfection.”
Fuller scored 29 points against the Lancers the last time DSU played them.
The action was marred with foul calls, limiting the time that Dixie State’s post players were on the floor. Both Josh Fuller and Mark Ogden would eventually foul out of the game. Fuller played a total of 13 minutes while Ogden got 23. Ogden fouled out with 11:44 remaining. Fuller fouled out with 8:07.
“They were in the bonus with 17:23 remaining in the game,” said Judkins. “One of our game officials was not from our league. I think his unfamiliarity with both teams certainly affected game play.”
Fuller got his fourth foul with 18:08 remaining. The Lancers would maintain a 7-10 point lead through the first seven minutes of the half. A layup by Robbie Nielson ignited a 10-1 run to get the teams to 60-60. But during the run, DSU lost Ogden.
“He had just picked up his third foul a couple of minutes earlier,” said Judkins. “He was called for another foul on another rebound, deservedly. But he went to the floor. And their player stood over him and did some talking. Mark stood up and this new official got between them and called a double technical. And just like that Mark is out of the game. Most of our conference officials know that Mark doesn’t talk or instigate.”
DSU tied the game at 60 on Hunter’s post move. “Zac (Hunter) came in at a crucial time and gave us a lift,” said Nielson. “He got some good shots to get us back into the game.”
Trevor Hill’s jumpshot tied the game at 62 with 8:29 remaining.
On CBU’s next possession, Fuller picked up his fifth foul. Judkins also picked up a technical foul.
“I was yelling at Trevor (Hill) about his defense,” said Judkins. “This new official who is 55 feet away from me thought I was reacting to his call. Frustrating.”
The loss of DSU’s post players ignited the late surge. CBU’s Smith scored 16 of the Lancers final 28 points, including the first nine of the run.
Smith led all players with 33 points. Wheelwright added 21 for the Lancers. For Dixie State, Hunter and Hill shared scoring honors with 15 apiece. Nielson and Fuller added 10 apiece. Ogden pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Red Storm now must wait to see if they get invited to the NCAA Tournament.
“Our guys finished the season strong,” said Judkins. “I think if we get invited, we can make some noise. Our guys still have some play in them. Hopefully this one bad game won’t knock us out of the tournament.”
Stats: CBU 90, DSU 73
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